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Thread: Headspace

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Westchester, NY (but born&raised in Brooklyn!)

    Default Headspace

    First off, resolution #1 done even before the new year: Register at GotMead. Yay and hi!

    So my question is re: headspace. I started making mead this past spring and the vast majority have been melomels. I mostly stick with one gallon batches, but each time I rack them, they decrease in volume (of course). So I am always left with more and more headspace in the carboy. I've heard both sides: that headspace is something to be avoided and also headspace isn't much of a concern with melomels. Which one is true? And if headspace should be avoided, how exactly does one do that? All I can think of is getting smaller glass jugs to rack the mead in to.

    Thanks for any info.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Saratoga Springs , NY


    Hi and welcome... Others may have alternative ideas from adding sanitized lead free glass marbles to adding a noble gas (like argon ) but my trick is simpler - I make more than a gallon (my primary is a bucket) and I store the excess in an airlocked bottle (could be 750 CC or 1.5 L) and then use that to top up the target carboy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    State of Jefferson

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    Couple of other tricks. You can purchase compressed CO2 which you can then use to fill any head space and drive out oxygen. CO2 is heavier so if handled softly it'll just lift the oxygen out.

    The other idea comes from the wild lab chemist in me. Wait to rack until you have another batch in active primary ferment. Then run a blowoff tube from the above ferment into the top of the secondary carboy you want to drive the oxygen out of! 😎

    I typically ferment in 5 gallon batches (go big or go home, my motto) and have had no issues with oxidizing any meads, even those I've racked four or five times.
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    "Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, a numerous band. It burned in his spirit to urge his folk to found a great building, a mead-hall grander than men of the era ever had heard of, and in it to share with young and old all of the blessings the Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers." - Beowulf

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Northeast Mississippi

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    Head space really only becomes an issue after your batch hits the 1.030 SG. If it contains fruit the sensitivity to oxidation becomes higher and head space must be more carefully managed.

    I've ended up making some 1 gallon BOMM batches that I use to top off fermenting carboys. Have also used a mead that I wasn't crazy about because it was too sweet or not sweet enough, but already bottled, to top off. Have also topped off melomels with some home made muscadine wine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015


    I have a collection of glass jugs in all different sizes. The 1 gallon and 1/2 gallon sizes get used the most. Over time if you use the same recipe often enough you'll have small quantities that lend themselves to being top off. In a pinch I'll use some sanitized glass marbles - I get them from crafts stores in the floral craft section:

    This 1/2 gal will be used to topoff a cyser that's currently in primary.
    Dave from New Haven County

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